In his keynote address at the SEFF-organised victims’ event in Enniskillen, Professor Henry Patterson of the University of Ulster spoke of the “brutal and sectarian reality” of the Provisional IRA’s campaign of violence.
Prof Patterson, who wrote the foreword for the new book, is currently researching the experience of Protestants in border areas of Northern Ireland during the Troubles. He has written extensively on the issue of border security.
“Some of the terrible human toll is revealed in these accounts of death, devastating injury and trauma. Most of those killed were members of the security forces, the majority of them part-time which made them particularly vulnerable to attack.
“However, others had long left the security forces or in fact had never been members. The testimonies reveal how the death of a loved one traumatised and too often destroyed the lives of other family members. These are not accounts suffused with bitterness and recrimination,” he said.
Reflecting on the attitude of the Government to dealing with victims, Prof Patterson said: “Apparently victims should only be listened to when they don’t say anything or demand anything that the current political structures cannot bear. At the same time the issue of collusion has served to allow Sinn Fein to retrospectively justify the IRA’s murder of UDR men and women, on and off-duty, because the whole organisation is depicted as involved in collusion and sectarian murder.
“This makes it all the more important that testimonies like those contained within this book are published to show the brutal and sectarian reality of the Provisionals’ campaign.”